Yemen To Probe Alleged Interrogation Abuses By United Arab Emirates, U.S.

John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, is among senators calling for investigations into the reports. (Jacquelyn Martin / AP)

By Ahmed Al-Haj for Associated Press – SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Yemen’s internationally-recognized government on Saturday ordered the creation of a committee to investigate allegations of human rights violations, following reports that U.S. military interrogators worked with forces from the United Arab Emirates who are accused of torturing detainees in Yemen. A copy of the order issued by Prime Minister Ahmed Obaid bin Daghr was obtained by The Associated Press. It said the investigation would focus on areas liberated by government forces from Shiite rebels known as the Houthis and their allies. The six-member committee will be chaired by Justice Minister Jamal Mohamed Omar and include representatives from the Human Rights Ministry, security agencies and the prosecution. It will immediately start work and have 15 days to conclude its investigation and report back to bin Daghr. The reports of the abuses were revealed in an AP investigation published Thursday. The investigation detailed a network of secret prisons across southern Yemen where hundreds are detained in the hunt for al-Qaida militants. American defense officials said U.S. forces have interrogated some detainees in Yemen but denied any participation in, or knowledge of, human rights abuses.

The Roots Of US Empire: Military Actions In The 1800s

Drawing from 1899. Uncle Sam stands on map of China which is being cut up by German, Italy, England, Russia, and France (Austria is in backgr. sharpening shears); Uncle Sam clutches "Trade Treaty with China" and says: "Gentleman, you may cut up this map as much as you like, but remember, I'm here to stay, and you can't divide Me up into spheres of influence". From Library of Congress.

By Tom Correa for American Cowboy Chronicles. American interest after the Civil War spread like wild fire. Along with our interest, came influence – and in many cases problems. Contrary to what some would say, it was the American Spirit that moved people to venture from our shores. The same American Pioneer Spirit that moved thousands upon thousands of Americans to go West and settle – also moved Americans around the globe to explorer new lands. It was on April 9th, 1865, that Gen. Robert E. Lee surrenders his Confederate Army to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant at the village of Appomattox Court House in Virginia. General Grant allows Rebel officers to keep their sidearms and permits soldiers to keep horses and mules. On March 9th and 10th, 1865, a full month before Lee’s surrender and the official end of the Civil War, the U.S. Navy landed U.S. Marines in Panama to protect the lives and property of American residents because of a revolution that was getting out of hand. From June 20th to July 7th, 1866, in China, U.S. Navy and Marines retaliated against a group of Chinese for their assault on the American consul at Newchwang.

Three Nations With Most Refugees Were Targets Of US Intervention

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By Whitney Webb for Mintpress News. CHILE– A United Nations report has shed light on the world’s burgeoning crisis of displaced peoples, finding that a record 65.6 million were forced to vacate their homes in 2016 alone. More than half of them were minors. The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which drafted the report, put the figure into perspective, stating that increasing conflict and persecution worldwide have led to “one person being displaced every three seconds – less than the time it takes to read this sentence.” UN High Commissioner Filippo Grandi called the figure “unacceptable” and called for “solidarity and a common purpose in preventing and resolving the crisis.” However, what the UN report failed to mention was the role of U.S. foreign intervention, indirect or direct, in fomenting the conflicts responsible for producing most of the world’s refugees.

How The US Armed Terrorist Groups In Syria

Free Syrian Army fighters in Saqba, a suburb of Damascus (Photo: Freedom House / CC-BY-2.0)

By Gareth Porter for The American Conservative – Three-term Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, a member of both the Armed Services and Foreign Affairs committees, has proposed legislation that would prohibit any U.S. assistance to terrorist organizations in Syria as well as to any organization working directly with them. Equally important, it would prohibit U.S. military sales and other forms of military cooperation with other countries that provide arms or financing to those terrorists and their collaborators. Gabbard’s “Stop Arming Terrorists Act” challenges for the first time in Congress a U.S. policy toward the conflict in the Syrian civil war that should have set off alarm bells long ago: in 2012-13 the Obama administration helped its Sunni allies Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar provide arms to Syrian and non-Syrian armed groups to force President Bashar al-Assad out of power. And in 2013 the administration began to provide arms to what the CIA judged to be “relatively moderate” anti-Assad groups—meaning they incorporated various degrees of Islamic extremism. That policy, ostensibly aimed at helping replace the Assad regime with a more democratic alternative, has actually helped build up al Qaeda’s Syrian franchise al Nusra Front into the dominant threat to Assad.

Is There A Western Plot To Overthrow Assad?

VBIED attack on women and children.

By William Van Wagenen for The LIberatarian – The Western narrative of the Syrian conflict, which began in the Spring of 2011, suggests that the Syrian people began to peacefully protest for an end to the Assad regime, which then responded with brutal oppression; killing, imprisoning and torturing innocent Syrian civilians in an effort to maintain power. In time, Syrian soldiers defected from the army (because they refused orders to shoot peaceful protesters), began to arm themselves, and created the Free Syrian Army (FSA) to fight the regime. The West then began to support the Syrian rebels, in an effort to protect civilians and allow Syrians to realize their aspirations for democracy and freedom. The Syrian government of course rejects this narrative, claiming instead that it has the support of the majority of Syrians, and is in fact the victim of a “conspiracy” or “plot” by the Western powers to support “terrorists” in an effort to overthrow it. While Western journalists at times report on claims of such a plot by Syrian officials, the tone of such reports is always from the perspective that that these claims are regime propaganda meant to justify the killing of civilians.

US Implicated In Brutal Torture In Lebanon

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By Maggie Michael for AP News – MUKALLA, Yemen (AP) — Hundreds of men swept up in the hunt for al-Qaida militants have disappeared into a secret network of prisons in southern Yemen where abuse is routine and torture extreme — including the “grill,” in which the victim is tied to a spit like a roast and spun in a circle of fire, an Associated Press investigation has found. Senior American defense officials acknowledged Wednesday that U.S. forces have been involved in interrogations of detainees in Yemen but denied any participation in or knowledge of human rights abuses. Interrogating detainees who have been abused could violate international law, which prohibits complicity in torture The United Arab Emirates and Yemeni forces run a secret network of prisons where prisoners are brutally tortured. The U.S. has questioned some detainees, and have regular access to their testimony — a potential violation of international law. (June 21) The AP documented at least 18 clandestine lockups across southern Yemen run by the United Arab Emirates or by Yemeni forces created and trained by the Gulf nation, drawing on accounts from former detainees, families of prisoners, civil rights lawyers and Yemeni military officials.

Resist This: The United States Is At War With Syria

by Debra Sweet | CC BY 2.0

By Jim Kavanagh for Counter Punch – The United States is at war with Syria. Though few Americans wanted to face it, this has been the case implicitly since the Obama administration began building bases and sending Special Ops, really-not-there, American troops, and it has been the case explicitly since August 3, 2015, when the Obama administration announced that it would “allow airstrikes to defend Syrian rebels trained by the U.S. military from any attackers, even if the enemies hail from forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.” With the U.S. Air Force—under Trump, following Obama’s declared policy—shooting down a Syrian plane in Syrian airspace, this is now undeniable. The United States is overtly engaged in another aggression against a sovereign country that poses no conceivable, let alone actual or imminent, threat to the nation. This is an act of war. As an act of war, this is unconstitutional, and would demand a congressional declaration. Will Trump ask for this? Will any Democratic or Republican congresscritter demand it? Is the Pope a Hindu? Would it make any difference? Why should Trump bother? Obama set the stage when he completely ignored the War Powers Act, the Constitution, Congress, and his own Attorney General and legal advisers, and went right ahead with a war on Libya

Miami Conference Signals Further Militarization Of US Policy In Central America

A man sits in front of a mural in Caracas, Venezuela | Photo: Reuters

By Jake Johnston for CEPR – In a high-level meeting Friday, the presidents of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador will discuss the region’s security with American and Mexican officials. Innocuous enough, you may think. But part of the meeting will be held on a US military base in Miami, Florida ― the headquarters of the US Southern Command, the Pentagon’s regional subsidiary that oversees American military operations throughout Central and South America as well as the Caribbean. Under President Donald Trump, the militarization of US foreign policy is about to stretch more deeply into Central America. Central America policymaking, hardly an open book to begin with, is set to become more secretive. With the Conference on Prosperity and Security in Central America just days away, there is no official agenda of speakers or publicly listed events and no involvement of civil society organizations, and even press access is extremely limited. What we do know is US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will be there, as will Vice President Mike Pence, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and of course, General John F. Kelly, the director of Homeland Security and the previous head of SOUTHCOM.

Conflict Between US & Russia Over Downing Of Syrian Aircraft

A U.S. F-18 Super Hornet. (U.S. Air Force)

By Robert Burns for Associated Press – WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. military on Sunday shot down a Syrian Air Force fighter jet that bombed local forces aligned with the Americans in the fight against Islamic State militants, an action that appeared to mark a new escalation of the conflict. The U.S.-led coalition headquarters in Iraq said in a written statement that a U.S. F-18 Super Hornet shot down a Syrian government SU-22 after it dropped bombs near the U.S. partner forces, known as the Syrian Democratic Forces. The shootdown was near the Syrian town of Tabqa. The U.S. military statement said it acted in “collective self defense” of its partner forces and that the U.S. did not seek a fight with the Syrian government or its Russian supporters. According to a statement from the Pentagon, pro-Syrian regime forces attacked the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces-held town of Ja’Din, south of Tabqah in northern Syria, wounding a number of SDF fighters and driving the SDF from the town. Coalition aircraft conducted a show of force and stopped the initial pro-regime advance toward the town, the Pentagon said. Following the pro-Syrian forces attack, the coalition called its Russian counterparts “to de-escalate the situation and stop the firing,” according to the statement.

Killer Drones And The Militarization Of U.S. Foreign Policy

The MQ-9 Reaper, a combat drone, in flight. Wikimedia Commons / Ricky Best

By Ann Wright for AFSA – The militarization of U.S. foreign policy certainly didn’t start with President Donald J. Trump; in fact, it goes back several decades. However, if Trump’s first 100 days in office are any indication, he has no intention of slowing down the trend. During a single week in April, the Trump administration fired 59 Tomahawk missiles into a Syrian airfield, and dropped the largest bomb in the U.S. arsenal on suspected ISIS tunnels in Afghanistan. This 21,600-pound incendiary percussion device that had never been used in combat—the Massive Ordinance Air Blast or MOAB, colloquially known as the “Mother of All Bombs”—was used in the Achin district of Afghanistan, where Special Forces Staff Sergeant Mark De Alencar had been killed a week earlier. (The bomb was tested only twice, at Elgin Air Base, Florida, in 2003.) To underscore the new administration’s preference for force over diplomacy, the decision to experiment with the explosive power of the mega-bomb was taken unilaterally by General John Nicholson, the commanding general of U.S. forces in Afghanistan. In praising that decision, Pres. Trump declared that he had given “total authorization” to the U.S. military to conduct whatever missions they wanted, anywhere in the world—which presumably means without consulting the interagency national security committee.

World Ignores Opposition Violence At Venezuela Protests

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By Sharmini Peries and Abby Martin for The Real News. I was very surprised to see that the reality was vastly different than what we are being told, Sharmini. I mean, yes, you hear all these horrific stories, right, from on the ground, amidst these protests, and you keep hearing 60 dead, Maduro kills 60 protestors, Maduro’s forces. And what you realize when you get there is, the country is pretty much split in two. It’s heavily divided between Chavistas and the opposition, and of course, amidst such economic, such a horrible economic crisis, people are going to have really strong opinions, but there are certainly huge marches on the ground on both sides. Tens of thousands of people marching for the government, for the opposition, and these are peaceful marches, jubilant atmosphere. Things are very calm, and then what you realize is, when you see these violent statistics and casualties and the death toll that’s rising, and the harsh quote unquote “repression” from government forces, it’s not happening at these marches. It’s happening at something called guarimbas.

U.N. Says 300 Civilians Killed In U.S.-Led Air Strikes In Raqqa Since March

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By Stephanie Nebehay for Reuters – Intensified coalition air strikes have killed at least 300 civilians in the Syrian northern city of Raqqa since March, as U.S.-backed forces close in on the stronghold of Islamic State forces, U.N. war crimes investigators said on Wednesday. The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a group of Kurdish and Arab militias supported by a U.S.-led coalition, began to attack Raqqa a week ago to take it from the jihadists. The SDF, supported by heavy coalition air strikes, have taken territory to the west, east and north of the city. “Coalition air strikes have intensified around the city,” said Paulo Pinheiro, chairman of the U.N. Commission of Inquiry. “As the operation is gaining pace very rapidly, civilians are caught up in the city under the oppressive rule of ISIL, while facing extreme danger associated with movement due to excessive air strikes,” he told reporters. Karen Abuzayd, an American commissioner on the independent panel, said: “We have documented the deaths caused by the coalition air strikes only and we have about 300 deaths, 200 in one place, in al-Mansoura, one village.”

Venezuela Resists U.S. Sabotage

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By Berta Joubert-Ceci for Worker’s World – These criminal acts have been directed with surgical accuracy against people identified as pro-Chavista. The reactionaries have targeted state establishments, too. The criminals have burned or destroyed everything — from entire fleets of public buses and offices of the government party, the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), to maternity and children’s hospitals. They recently burned down Chávez’s childhood home. These terrorists have already killed about 60 people. Their cruelty is unimaginable, as is their terrible racist character. After identifying a young Afro-Venezuelan as a Chavista, the criminals set him on fire, chased him and then stabbed him. When some women from the wealthy sector of Altamira in Caracas saw an Indigenous woman, a well-known artist, they shouted at her, insulted her, and kicked and hit her with flag poles. Paid criminal gangs and Colombian paramilitaries are also involved in these terrorist acts. The Venezuelan government denounced the use of children in these attacks to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). It is important to emphasize that although the corporate media present these terrorist acts as chaos at the national level…

Hiding The Ugly Business Of U.S. Torture

From nationofchange.org

By Ray McGovern for Information Clearing House – A grisly feature of the “war on terror” was America’s descent into torture, but the powers-that-be have decided that the common folk shouldn’t worry their little heads about this ugliness, reports ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern. June 05, 2017 “Information Clearing House” – So, you did not believe in the power of the Deep State? Well, you may change your mind after reading a report in The New York Times that the powers-that-be in Washington are about to deep-six the 6,700-page Senate report based on original CIA cables and other documents that not only to depict savage torture practices during the George W. Bush era, but also show that CIA officials consistently lied in claiming these heinous practices yielded information of any intelligence value. In what amounts to a gross violation of the public trust – not to mention his oath to the Constitution – Senate Intelligence Committee chair, Sen. Richard Burr, R-North Carolina, has recalled all copies and will put the report under lock and key for good – dismissing it as a “footnote in history.”

Our National Bird: The Medium Is The Message

Drones No Killer Drones light brigade Photo by Jenna Pope

By Dave Foster for Anti-War – Sonia Kennebeck’s film National Bird illuminates the tragic personal aspect of America’s drone wars. The film explores the aftermath of drone strikes from the personal experiences of several people, some of whom were on the receiving end and others involved with targeting and weapon delivery. The tragedy of the survivors and victims’ families are visceral and obvious. National Bird also gets up close and personal to what may have been less obvious to the audience prior to the film, namely the haunting psychic turmoil of some of the U.S. service members involved in the drone operations. While these latter stories are a compelling compliment to those of the victims, the inquiring public and policy makers do not require inside information on the drone program’s targeting deliberations and trigger-pulling decisions. A simple thought experiment is all that is needed to clearly show why our armed drone program is a moral failure. Supporters of America’s use of armed drones in counterterrorism operations typically point to the program’s advantages of a comparatively light footprint of US forces on foreign soil, the accuracy of weapons delivery verses that for manned aircraft, and to the reportedly strict vetting process for targeting.